David Parfitt

The ideal student to teach

What characteristics make the perfect Thai student?


Teaching, as many would agree, is a challenging and sometimes stressful profession. 

The allure of fame and fortune isn't the primary draw for those who embark on a teaching career, and this sentiment resonates globally. However, every year, a multitude of foreigners land on the shores of Thailand, navigating the competitive landscape for teaching positions or settling for less demanding roles. On the flip side, schools strive to select the crème de la crème, seeking that elusive ideal teacher.

While schools set high standards, it's only fair for teachers to entertain thoughts about the benchmarks for role model students. This blog pivots away from the pursuit of teaching perfection and instead delves into the characteristics that would define an ideal English language student. 

Bearing in mind that perfection is a rarity and acknowledging regional cultural nuances, let's explore the traits that many teachers would cherish in their students.

Motivated: The age-old adage holds true: you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. No matter how qualified a teacher is, their efforts are amplified when met with motivated students. The enthusiasm to learn a language is paramount, and it significantly influences a student's success. Motivated learners absorb knowledge like sponges, making the teaching process more enjoyable and effective.

Inquisitive: Teachers appreciate students who aren't afraid to ask questions. Inquisitiveness not only indicates a genuine interest but also provides valuable feedback for educators. Unfortunately, cultural factors sometimes hinder students from asking questions, as it may be perceived as a sign of incompetence. Overcoming this hurdle can lead to more engaging and interactive learning environments.

Cooperative: Following instructions might seem straightforward, but in reality, not all students adhere to basic classroom directives. A cooperative attitude, where students willingly participate and follow instructions, makes the teaching process smoother and more enjoyable for both parties.

Enthusiastic: Teaching becomes a joy when met with a group of motivated and energetic students. An enthusiastic approach to learning fosters a positive and dynamic classroom atmosphere, making lessons more engaging and enjoyable for everyone involved.

Unafraid to Make Mistakes: Language acquisition involves trial and error. Students who are unafraid to make mistakes and actively practice the language contribute significantly to their own progress. Overcoming the fear of making errors is particularly challenging in some Asian cultures where mistakes are often equated with losing face.

Hard-Working: Learning a language requires effort and persistence. Students who understand the importance of hard work and consistently apply themselves are more likely to excel in their language skills. Teachers guide and assist, but the actual learning and practicing must come from the students themselves.

Open and Talkative: Students who express their opinions and engage in conversations enrich the classroom environment. Being talkative not only aids students in progressing more rapidly but also makes lessons more interesting and dynamic for teachers.

Realistic: Setting realistic expectations is crucial. Language proficiency develops over time, and expecting fluency after a short course is unrealistic. Ideal students acknowledge this and approach their language learning journey with realistic goals.

Patient: Patience is a virtue, and it's especially important when navigating the challenges of language learning. Impatience can hinder progress, and students who approach learning with patience are better equipped to overcome hurdles.

Helpful: Students who assist their peers and actively contribute to a collaborative learning environment are invaluable. The camaraderie among students creates a positive atmosphere and enhances the overall learning experience.

Independent: Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are vital for language learners. Students who can think independently and attempt to solve problems on their own contribute not only to their personal growth but also to a more effective learning environment.

Serious (Determined): Seriousness in this context doesn't refer to a lack of humor but rather to determination. Students serious about their language learning journey and willing to put in the effort are easier to teach. A commitment to learning goes a long way in achieving language proficiency.

Sense of Humor: Humor in the classroom can create a relaxed atmosphere and build rapport between teachers and students. A sense of humor in students enhances the overall learning experience, making lessons more enjoyable and engaging.

Well-Mannered: Basic manners go a long way in creating a conducive learning environment. Students who exhibit good manners contribute to a positive and respectful atmosphere in the classroom.

Disciplined: Discipline extends beyond behavior in the classroom. Ideal students display self-discipline in their approach to homework, exams, and overall efforts to improve their language skills. Discipline is a key factor in ensuring sustained progress.

Sociable: Social skills play a significant role in language learning. Students who enjoy meeting new people and aren't afraid to engage in English conversations have an advantage. In a language school setting, where collaboration is crucial, sociability enhances the dynamics of the classroom.

Well-Dressed: While not a critical factor, appropriate attire contributes to a professional learning environment. Most language learners wear uniforms, but maintaining a neat appearance adds a level of professionalism to the overall learning experience.

Rich (Affluent): Financial resources aren't a prerequisite for language learning success, but affluence can facilitate additional opportunities for practice and exposure. Having the means to travel and practice English in diverse settings can enrich the language learning journey.

Good-Looking: While personal aesthetics have no bearing on language learning, teachers appreciate students who present themselves professionally. However, it's crucial for teachers to maintain ethical boundaries and avoid inappropriate relationships with students.

In summary, an ideal English language student encompasses a spectrum of qualities, blending motivation, cooperation, enthusiasm, patience, and a realistic approach to learning. While perfection is elusive, students who embody these characteristics contribute significantly to a positive and effective learning environment. Teachers, in turn, find joy in guiding and facilitating the language learning journey for such students. The quest for an ideal student remains an ongoing exploration, acknowledging the diverse cultural contexts in which education unfolds.




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One that wants to learn maybe.

By dave, BKK (10th February 2024)

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